Duisenberg: Retirement plans on hold
The head of the European Central Bank (ECB), Wim Duisenberg, has agreed to stay on past his scheduled retirement date while his designated successor awaits a trial verdict.
He told reporters on Saturday he would accept a
proposal by European Union finance ministers to remain in his post until a successor was appointed.
Mr Duisenberg, who planned his retirement for his 68th birthday on 9 July, did not say how long he was prepared to stay on.
European Union finance ministers agreed during a two-day meeting in Athens with their central bank governors to invite the Dutchman to stay in his post.
I will be president of the European Central Bank up until the day my duly appointed successor can take office
The delay is necessary because his designated successor, Bank of France chief Jean-Claude Trichet, will nor hear the verdict in his trial on charges of complicity in the Credit Lyonnais banking scandal till 18 June.
If found guilty - admittedly not thought by observers a likely outcome - Mr Trichet's chances of becoming the second most powerful central banker in the world, after US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan, would be ruined.
Luxembourg's Prime Minister Jean-Claude Juncker, who is also the country's finance minister, said on Friday a Frenchman would definitely succeed Mr Duisenberg.
"If Trichet is not in a position to get the job, another Frenchman will be nominated," Mr Juncker said.
Rumours about Mr Duisenberg postponing his imminent retirement have been circulating in Brussels for weeks as Mr Trichet's verdict date nears.
Mr Duisenberg refused to speculate on how long he would remain in the post.
"I will be president of the ECB up to and until the day my duly appointed successor takes office," he told a press conference.
"In the interest of a smooth transition I'd be happy to continue as president for some time."